In February, I asked my LinkedIn connections what they’d like to learn more about. SEO and Social Media Specialist Leigh Ann Moltz wanted to know how companies with geographically dispersed locations could better communicate internally and share best practices.
First of all, your momma told you to. Secondly, you’ll reduce duplication of effort, and save money and time by repurposing and reusing content and other resources. Thirdly, you’ll learn from each other’s successes and failures. Finally, sharing and learning from others is fun!
What do you want to share?
Before deciding how you’ll share, consider what you’ll share, how often you’ll share, and who will participate. You’ll also want to think about what’s practical. (It’s okay; practical can be fun, too!)
For example, is it feasible to have people meet in person on a regular basis, or would virtual meetings make more sense? Also, do you merely want to share files, resources and ideas? Or do you also want to discuss them and get feedback?
How can you facilitate sharing information among multiple locations?
Following are a few options, from most to least involved and costly. Although this article is about marketing, these suggestions will work for people in management, human resources, sales or any department.
1. Create a marketing council.
Appoint, elect or volunteer a representative from each location to participate. Let them determine the goals, frequency, purpose, content and process of the meeting.
2. Hold regular meetings.
Do members simply want to share or also get feedback? What will they share—success stories, resources (i.e., service providers, apps, software programs), and “learning experiences”? Will they brainstorm or solve problems; or seek input on future efforts?
Make each meeting educational by inviting guest speakers to address topics like marketing strategy and planning, determining ROI or writing. Or, use it to coordinate overall company marketing plans or outline marketing efforts.
Consider rotating the meeting among your locations, or hosting them at resorts, lodges or hotels in cities easily accessible to all members. Between meetings, encourage members to communicate one-on-one.
3. Piggyback onto existing company or industry conferences.
If you attend regional or national conferences or meetings, host your group’s meeting before or after to save on travel expenses.
4. Host virtual meetings.
While not as fun, virtual meetings using Skype, Google Hangouts or conference calling can be productive. Consider using an online meeting and web conferencing tool like GoToMeeting, WebEx or MeetingBurner. For a list of 18 such tools, see: http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/online-meeting-tools/. For a more comprehensive list, see: http://www.capterra.com/web-conferencing-software/.
5. Share files online.
Enable group members to access digital files such as marketing plans, graphics files or photos, using a simple cloud-based service like Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive. For a comprehensive list of free and fee-based cloud storage services with reviews, visit: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2413556,00.asp.
Put some thought into how you’ll organize files. Consider creating a separate folder for each location with a subfolder for each calendar or fiscal year. Within each year’s folder, create subfolders for marketing plans, photos, marketing pieces, etc.
If your company already has a server or internal file storage system, just make sure everyone can access it. Ideally, all shared information will be in one virtual location.
6. Use social media.
Create a private Facebook or LinkedIn group to share updates, alert members about new resources, or arrange meetings. Also share recent successes or moments of inspiration, and ask for feedback. Consider using Pinterest or Instagram to showcase recent efforts.
Poll members to see what platforms they’re already using, so they’re more likely to participate. For a list of 21 most-used platforms, see: http://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-networks/2015-04-13/worlds-21-most-important-social-media-sites-and-apps-2015.
Don’t miss out on opportunities!
It’s tempting to just keep doing what you’re doing—or worse yet, do nothing. But you’re missing opportunities to learn, improve your marketing effectiveness and grow your market share. By sharing ideas, resources, and executions (i.e., campaigns, photos, ads, direct mail), you’ll be able to do more—with less—to build your company’s brand. At the same time, you’ll build valuable relationships with others in your company.
Olson is a marketing and public relations consultant, and principal of Katrina Olson Strategic Communications. She has written for tED magazine’s print edition since 2005, judged tED magazine’s Best of the Best Competition since 2006, and emceed the Best of the Best Awards ceremony for a total of seven years. She can be reached at Katrina@katrinaolson.com or via her website at katrinaolson.com.Tagged with tED